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“If the view is pretty enough….”

There is something magical about this time of year. The snap in the air. The explosive colors. We dig out our baggy sweaters and our hoodies. We’re just more comfortable. Nobody is worried about tan lines and bathing suit bellies anymore. It’s time to stop pretending. Fall is when we let our hair down, spend 12 hours on the couch watching college football, all as a sort of warm-up to Sunday when it starts to get real. And Sunday night. And Monday night. And if there is any down time, playoff baseball covers nicely. Like Grandma’s nightshirt.

I’d feel this way even if I didn’t hate everything about summer. I’m sure of it.

(The beastly heat. My glasses sliding off my nose. The interminable days. Bored kids. Stressed adults needing vacations to recover from “vacations”. Nobody contemplates anything during the summer. They just run out and mindlessly do stuff in case somebody mocks them for not doing stuff. It’s why so many long days end up with sun-burnt heads and blistered feet and draining sand and empty wallets. And it’s why Labor Day weekend, far from being depressing, feels to a grown up like Gerald Ford taking over for Nixon, reminding us that “our long national nightmare is over”.)

Photo by Esther Clarke

I adore the fall. And I don’t much mind the winter either. Christmas is near. All the great Charlie Brown and Elvis songs. The homemade cookies. The splendid lights. The way even the most disagreeable persons swallow their miserableness in honor of the holidays. It’s the only time of the year I actually welcome crowds. Patience is a virtue, and between Thanksgiving and New Years we’re virtuous as hell. Nobody wants to be the Grinch (that comes by Valentine’s Day).

Like most folks I know, I spent 40+ hours a week doing something I don’t want to so, surrounded largely by people I’d prefer to not be surrounded by. I’m nobody’s boss and like it that way. I would prefer to be nobody’s underling at the same time, but alas that ain’t so. I answer to a bewildering assortment of real and pseudo bosses, most of whom live the “kick down, kiss up” lifestyle to the fullest extent of the law. I’ve discovered it’s best to think little and say even less. Smile and wave and wear a nice shirt and stay awake in meetings.

As much as possible I occupy my desk with ear buds blaring and teeth clenched, watching the wheels go ’round. When time expires I run like hell and sleep like a stone. I’m too damn tired to dream at the moment. Maybe something in color slips through on the weekend…..if I’ve been a good boy.

What makes the 40+ bearable? The view. A gorgeous painting of NEPA foliage outside the 3rd floor window that reaches from the floor to the ceiling. A quick spin of my chair is like a oil change. Good for another 3000 miles. Ok, maybe 10 minutes or so but still. It’s better than nothing.

I was hoping at my age that my livelihood would have more going for it than the fucking view, but the economy is a bitch and all that. We’ve been programmed to feel lucky for such largess. And so…..thank you Wall Street. I guess. Could be worse. Ebola, which is apparently contagious even if you dress like a condom, could be creeping under the door like the blob in that diner. And Steve McQueen is dead….so what now?

The bank is no more than a holding pen. What goes in is earmarked for dismissal before the electronic transfer ink is dried. “Retirement” is a word that silly actors who claim to have “financial planners” on speed dial use in glossy commercials. For most it means the years we’re going to spend as Wal-Mart greeters until the college loans are paid. Or until we drop dead from excessive minimum wage-ism. Who “retires” these days anyway? It’s un-American.

But still….

Looking out the window at something ugly just might be the thing that makes me take my ball and go home.

It’s the little things. That’s what those who have most of the big things tucked away in safe deposit boxes usually say.

But sometimes….there’s a kernel of truth to even the hoariest of clichés.

If the view is pretty enough.

In a bit..

–tf

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